by hikers of the foot trail linking the Old Erie Canal Towpath to the Finger Lakes Trail
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Saturday, May 2, 2009
Not exactly a Link Trail hike, but we can dream...
For many more pictures, see the Picasaweb album for this hike.
Grace and I met Kathy, Kathy, Mary, Dawn, Sigi and Horst at the Canastota thruway exit at 9:00 as scheduled. Our caravan made its way through Rome and north toward Pixley Falls. We parked at the southernmost trailhead, piled into two cars, and proceeded to our starting point: the Boonville Nice N' Easy.
We were lucky to have a sunny, cool day. We walked past a beautiful mural painted on the wall of an old building, and over the footbridge. From there it was a simple matter of walking southward along the path on the eastern bank. I enjoyed chatting with Dawn about travel and wildflowers.
Before long I fell far behind. You probably won't be too surprised to hear the cause: a picturesque patch of Cladonia fungus. I think it was Cladonia pyxidata but it could be any of a number of similar-looking species on this list.
I caught up with the group while they were pausing at an old piece of machinery that was presumably put there to control the flow between the main canal and the connecting stream.
We moved on, crossing Route 46 and pausing to view the lock just beyond...
... and to admire the work a beaver had done on a tree across the trail from the canal...
...and the pussy willows glowing in the spring summer sun.
Over the next few miles we saw several locks, one of which had a fairly new-looking footbridge crossing it.
Once again, I fell behind as I lingered on an irresistible photo op: a community of red-topped fungus on a post. These were also Cladonia, but a different species: my best guess is Cladonia didyma, but it could have been Cladonia magyarica.
At one point I got to talk to Mary about the work that she and other have done to make the Link Trail a reality. It took years of work just to get the State Parks Commission to talk to them, let alone allow them to build the trail. But after more than ten years of work, the trail between Cazenovia and Canastota was completed. Then, immediately after that was finished last summer, New York State allowed horse traffic on the trail, ignoring the misgivings of those who made it. It's no wonder that, as Mary said, the folks who worked so hard on the trail are "feeling ill-used".
I think that the Link Trail is a gem. I feel lucky to have such a beautiful, secluded trail so close to my old stomping grounds, and I'm glad to be able to contribute to it. I thought of all this as I walked with Mary, and as she pointed to the bluffs off to the left. She's working on a way to extend the Link Trail northward to connect with the one we were walking. That's an exciting prospect.
These old structures look like buttresses, but what they used to buttress is anyone's guess.
We left the main trail to have lunch near the falls north of the park. A few of us descended the steep trail to explore the area where the two streams cascade over waterfalls, converge, and flow southward.
Between our lunch spot and Pixley Falls State Park, the grade must steepen, because it seemed like there was an old lock every time I looked. Along with the locks, there were recurring companions of the day...
We reached Pixley Falls and made our way down to the bottom of the falls. I used the timer to get the group shot at the top of this entry. Then we hiked the last two miles or so, which was steeper than the rest.
We got back to the cars parked at the trailhead and shuttled back to Boonville.